The Town of Telluride could be the sixth community nationwide to be put on federal probation for not ensuring structures meet the local Land Use Code obligations regarding the National Flood Insurance Program, which would trigger a surcharge on home insurance, per notifications issued by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) this week.
Telluride is not yet on probationary status with FEMA.
FEMA said on Jan. 4 that the community has been given formal notice and “will be placed on probationary status by the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) on March 9, 2024, due to deficiencies and violations with the town’s floodplain management program unless the community can either remediate all outstanding violations or prepare a compliance plan approved by FEMA.”
Lindsey Mills, communications manager at the Town of Telluride, told the Daily Planet on Jan. 5 that the town is aware of its predicament.
“We are also aware that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has issued a letter to property owners in Telluride regarding the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) and this possibility,” Mills said.
Mills said the town “will update the community regarding our work with the Federal agency on this matter as it develops.”
“The Town of Telluride is currently in discussions with FEMA to better understand how the agency interprets a portion of the Town of Telluride’s adopted building code as it relates to administering floodplain regulations,” Mills said. “We look forward to coming to a mutual agreement with FEMA on this matter. For property owners, HOAs, and insurers, there is no action necessary related to the letter from FEMA at this time.”
Telluride participates in the federal insurance program and has “396 flood insurance policies in force with a total coverage of more than $95,798,000 as of Oct. 30, 2023,” FEMA said.
The only other community in FEMA Region 8 that is currently on probation is the City of Belt, Montana, Brian Hvinden, FEMA public affairs specialist, told the Daily Planet on Jan. 4.
He said the violations and deficiencies in Telluride were first discovered in 2018.
“The issue of the community not administering their adopted local floodplain ordinance correctly was discovered during a compliance verification visit on May 20, 2018, that was conducted by the Insurance Services Office, a FEMA contractor for the Community Rating System,” Hvinden said.
If the town does get placed on probation with FEMA, then there would be “a $50 surcharge will be added to the premium of each new and renewed flood insurance policy sold within the community,” a public news release stated on Jan. 4.
FEMA also cautioned that if Telluride fails to remedy the issues during the probationary period, it would be suspended.
Suspension is not a common occurrence, however.
“Logan County, Colorado, is the only Colorado community to be suspended from the NFIP in the last 10 years,” Hvinden said. “The community’s suspension went effective on March 3, 2023.”
But suspension would mean that flood insurance would no longer be available from the program and should a flood disaster occur “in a suspended community, most types of federal disaster assistance would not be available,” FEMA said.
Generally, communities nationwide are becoming more prepared for potential natural disasters and some worry the terrain in Colorado is becoming more unstable amid arid soils and drought conditions.
It doesn’t take much time, snowmelt, or rain to cause a flash flood. For example, the National Weather Service said a flash flood in a dry wash in Arizona took only 58 seconds to develop.
The National Weather Service cautions people to be aware of their environment when severe weather events occur.
FEMA said in the spring, snowmelt traveling through riverines that have been developed with roads and parking lots will see significant increases in the amount of runoff since the water can’t be absorbed, and even “basements can become death traps as they fill with water.”
FEMA tips for securing homes that are vulnerable to flooding include a variety of measures to get things moved up off the ground level or basement level of a home.
FEMA said moving appliances out of basements to the second floor or attic is one way to flood-proof a home.
Raising electrical components and appliances off the floor, including electrical outlets, washers, dryers, water heaters, HVAC systems and outdoor air conditioning compressors, are also included in FEMA’s recommendations.
Alice J. Roden started working for Trending Insurance News at the end of 2021. Alice grew up in Salt Lake City, UT. A writer with a vast insurance industry background Alice has help with several of the biggest insurance companies. Before joining Trending Insurance News, Alice briefly worked as a freelance journalist for several radio stations. She covers home, renters and other property insurance stories.